Ball & Claw (2010-2011)


This body of work was inspired by my experience as a young boy visiting my grandparent’s home where the ball-and-claw design was predominantly used for the ‘voorkamer’ (lounge) furniture.  Experiencing the world at knee-level, the shape of these furniture legs made a large impression on me – they enchanted me with their associations of the mythical and other-worldly that they generally brought into the quite drab and strict space of the white Calvinist homestead.  In spite of the omnipresence of ball-and-claw designs in many South African homes, they are colonial imports that recall a local obsession with western design and etiquette.  They are firstly associated with 18thcentury Queen Anne furniture and also with the American Chippendale style, both of which are characterised by their cabriole legs that were typical of colonial period designs. 

The pieces from the Ball & Claw series reevaluates (and queers) objects that originated from a colonial design culture.  Be it in Imbuia wood, distressed cement or marshmallow-pink silicone, these pieces offer a contemporary take on conservative cultural remnants and aesthetic traditions.

My Boy Lollipop, Range 1 with reflectionErnst van der Wal. My Boy Lollipop. Silicone. 5cm x 5cm x 33cm.


Lady Anne, Range 1 with reflectionErnst van der Wal. Queen Anne. Imbuia Wood. 5cm x 5cm x 33cm.


Writings on the Work Include:

Ernst van der Wal. 2010. ‘Die Kweer Kolonie’, in POMP. Kaapstad: Griffel Media. ISBN 9781920424176. Pp 112-120. (available here)

‘Queering Anne’. 2010. Design Indaba Magazine, Design Feature. Second Quarter. p70. (available here)